With the 23rd overall pick, Rishi Pochiraju has the Chiefs taking Brandin Cooks, a wide receiver from Oregon State. Here’s the write-up.
The Chiefs don’t have much depth at receiver behind Dwayne Bowe. The team in general might be the deepest in the NFL (remember when KC rested 20 of 22 starters and were a made field goal away from winning the game?). Cooks is an excellent route-runner and generates separation easily – he almost always requires the attention of a safety. Alex Smith isn’t a bad quarterback, so Cooks won’t have to adjust much. But at Oregon State, he did a tremendous job of making tough catches on passes that were off-target. Cooks would give the Chiefs a solid number two target behind Bowe and improve the unit on the team which has the least depth.
First, I like Cooks a lot and think he would be a good fit for what the Chiefs do on offense. Good on Pochiraju for the selection of Cooks over, say, Kelvin Benjamin.
Second, there is no doubt the Chiefs need to improve the wide receiver unit has a whole. It is one of their weaker position groups – weakest of all the offensive positions – and it needs to be upgraded.
Third, the deeper and deeper we get into this draft evaluation processes, the more and more I begin to think taking a wide receiver in the first round makes no sense.* The depth at wide receiver in both the draft and free agency is crazy. Guys like Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis are late first round/early second round picks in most years but both may be available with the Chiefs pick in the third round.
History tells us good wide receivers can come from anywhere in the draft. A few examples: none of Green Bay’s wide receivers were drafted in the first round;** Eric Decker, the off-season’s best free agent wide receiver, was a third round pick; Pro Football Focus’ top wide receiver for 2013, Brandon Marshall, was a fourth round draft pick, and their number three wide receiver, Antonio Brown, was a sixth round draft pick’ DeSean Jackson (second round), Jason Avant (fourth round), and Riley Cooper (fifth round) are some of the most productive wide receivers Andy Reid ever drafted.*** There is little to suggest top wide receivers can only be first round draft picks.
In short: this year’s draft and free agent class is full of wide receivers and teams can find top-end receivers anywhere in the draft, therefore using a late first round pick on a receiver makes little sense when a likely equivalent receiver can be found later in the draft. Kansas City would be better off using their first round pick on the top available 3-4 defensive lineman or a tight end since those seem to be the weakest position groups in the draft.
Then again, Brandin Cooks would be nice…
**Green Bay has selected just one receiver in the first round since 1997, Javon Walker in 2002. Dorsey took over Director of College Scouting for Green Bay in 1997.